On a semi-regular basis, I do some childminding for a lovely family, and this week, the younger girl (aged eight) brought home a “Congratulations” certificate from school.
This got me thinking about our achievements as adults. When did someone last give you a certificate to say “well done”, “congratulations” or “great job”? Has anyone even said those words to you recently?
Sometimes, it’s easy to feel that our hard work goes unnoticed – maybe by our employers, teachers or relatives. Perhaps you stayed late every night to ensure the success of a tricky project at work, and no-one seemed to care. Or you’ve reached a thousand subscribers on your blog, but your spouse can’t see what you’re so excited about.
The even deeper trap, though, is not so much that other people don’t recognize and acknowledge our achievements, but that we ourselves don’t. I’m someone who likes instant results; I’m not patient and I tend to struggle to maintain enthusiasm throughout a long project or when working towards a distant goal. Because of this, I’ve started consciously recording and celebrating my achievements, so that I realize that my hard work is paying off and that I am making progress.
Why Do It? Thoughts After Ten Months of Achievements
Since January, I’ve been keeping up a very simple practice of spending ten minutes, once a month, thinking about and writing down what I’ve achieved. So if you think that recording your achievements is too much hassle, you might want to reconsider; however busy you are, ten minutes a month isn’t going to impinge much on your schedule.
In the past ten months, life has changed a lot for me, and one of the benefits of recording my achievements is that I can see how far I’ve come since January. For example, back in January, the sum total of my blogging achievement was:
- Launched weblog [The Office Diet] on Jan 1st
- Guest post on Diet Blog on Jan 16th
Fast-forward through the book, and achievements like these appear:
- Staff writing position on Diet Blog (February)
- Wrote guest posts for several big blogs: Ririan Project, Pick the Brain, Dumb Little Man, Cranky Fitness (May)
- Became a staff blogger for Pick the Brain and Dumb Little Man (August)
Building up my fledgling blogging career has been a priority for me this year, and it’s encouraging to see that I’ve come a long way since that first guest post in January: this month, I have enough staff blogging work to pay all my rent and bills. I know that when I start on other long-term goals in the future, I’ll be able to trace a similar pattern of progress, celebrating the small victories to begin with, then seeing myself build on those.
Another benefit that I found through the tougher early months was that writing down my achievements at the end of each month helped me to focus on the areas where I was improving and getting somewhere. Sometimes I had to scrape a bit for things to record, but it helped me get through some difficult months.
How to Create Your Achievements Record
I have a small leather-bound notebook, given to me for Christmas last year, in which I devote a page a month to my achievements list. This suits me well; it doesn’t take much time, but it provides a permanent record which I intend to keep adding to over the next decade (the notebook has plenty of pages!)
Something I’m considering for the future, though, is also having a scrapbook or folder for achievements. This might be a good form of record if your achievements are in the form of news clippings or printed magazine pieces, pieces of artwork, or photographs.
You don’t necessarily have to use words in your record. If you’re tracking your progress towards a fitter, healthier body, for instance, your achievements record could take the form of monthly photographs and measurements.
Don’t Forget to Celebrate: Pick Some Rewards
Something which I intend to start doing more is to pick rewards for reaching milestones. I find that this is both an encouragement to work hard towards a goal, and also a way to acknowledge that I really have achieved something of significance. It’s so easy to treat our achievements lightly, or to feel that they don’t matter because they wouldn’t be “big” in the eyes of the world.
So some of the rewards I’m planning at the moment (from small to big) are:
- A celebratory really good bottle of wine when I reach 1,000 subscribers on my blog, The Office Diet
- A meal out somewhere special when I’ve finished writing all the extra content that I want to put on my Aliventures site (a number of articles and tutorials), and when I’ve finished the redesign
- A weekend away when I first sell a novel (a little way off, at the moment…)
Although none of these are certain to happen, I’ve phrased them all as “when” rather than “if” because that helps me to be confident that I can and will achieve them all – even if it takes me a while!
What have you achieved over the past few weeks? What milestones do you hope to reach soon – and how will you be celebrating?